Gun licence D-Day looms

DEADLY WEAPONS: Illegal firearms confiscated by police during anti-crime operations. Cicra 2009. Pic. Unknown.
DEADLY WEAPONS: Illegal firearms confiscated by police during anti-crime operations. Cicra 2009. Pic. Unknown.

Sibongile Mashaba

Sibongile Mashaba

The deadline for the final renewal of gun licences is drawing near and police have warned that they will not extend it.

The last group of people - whose birthday falls between October 1 and December 31 - have until March 31 to submit their applications for the renewal of their licences.

The firearm renewal exercise began in January 2005.

In the first phase - people whose birthdays fall between January 1 and March 31 - had from January 1 2005 to March 31 2006 to renew their licences.

The second phase - people who were born between April 1 and June 30 - renewed their licences between January 1 2006 and March 31 2007.

The third phase - gun owners born between July 1 and September 30 had from January 1 2007 to March 31 last year to renew their licences.

Senior Superintendent Lindela Mashigo said: "There will be no extensions . We have given people enough time to do that.

"People who failed to renew their licences will have to make a presentation to the police and we will decide if they qualify for a prolonged licence."

A licence for a self-defence firearm is valid for five years, while one for a restricted firearm for self defence is permitted for two years.

Licences for occasional and dedicated hunting or sports shooting are both valid for 10 years.

Licences for both private and public collection are valid for 10 years.

Mashigo said any person who no longer wished to possess any licensed firearm may:

l Dispose of it by selling it to a licensed firearms dealer;

l Sell it to another person who has a licence to possess such firearm;

l Have the gun deactivated by a licensed gunsmith;

l Hand it to the SAPS for destruction;

l Sell or hand it over to a legal entity.

"The licence remains valid until June 30 this year. If the person fails to dispose of such a firearm, he or she will be subjected to an investigation.

"This process means that we will be able to have control over lost or stolen guns. We have devices that we use during roadblocks to determine whether or not a person in possession of a firearm is the owner.

"We will also be able to know how many legal and illegal firearms are in the country."

According to an SAPS report, more than 17000 firearms were confiscated during the 2007-2008 financial year.

SA Gun Association spokesman Martin Hood said the process was not helping law abiding citizens.

"There is massive non-compliance and people think it is expensive. Some think it's a waste of time," said Hood.

He said the SAPS should extend the renewal period and embark on a massive publicity campaign.